NavNews 02 June 2000 NNS2303. USS Kitty Hawk /CVW-5 completes Cobra Gold 2000 By USS Kitty Hawk Public Affairs staff USS KITTY HAWK, At Sea (NNS) - Wrapping up an intense four days filled with nearly non-stop flight operations, USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 recently completed their participation in Exercise Cobra Gold 2000. From May 9-23, Exercise Cobra Gold 2000 tested the U.S. and Thai military to ensure regional peace. It also strengthened the ability of the Royal Thai armed forces to defend themselves and respond to regional contingencies. This annual joint exercise was one of the largest military exercises involving U.S. forces in the Pacific Command this year, and it involved units from the Thai and U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines. Armed forces from Singapore also participated for the first time this year. Aircraft from CVW-5, permanently embarked aboard Kitty Hawk and based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, completed approximately 500 sorties, including a mix of air- to-air and air-to-ground training missions. In addition to flying off the deck of Kitty Hawk, CVW-5 operated F/A-18 Hornets and F-14 Tomcats from Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, approximately 165 miles northeast of Bangkok. These aircraft acted as aggressor forces, conducting local strike training exercises on Chandy and Bon Chan Kren inert ranges in Thailand. CVW-5 aircraft also provided air-to-air training with squadrons from Singapore, Thailand, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps. "Our Hornets flew 36 sorties with the Royal Thai Navy," said Lt. j.g. David Baird of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195, from Madison, N.J. "It was a great opportunity to train with them and their F-16, F-5 and L-39 aircraft." Keeping an eye on all the action, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115's E-2C Hawkeye aircraft provided critical data about incoming "enemy" aircraft to the pilots, the ship and the rest of the battle group. "Our role in Cobra Gold was to intercept, control and provide early warning location and identification on simulated hostile aircraft," said VAW-115's Lt. Cmdr. Jim Byerly of Fresno, Calif. "We flew from one end of the range to the other looking for Thai aircraft playing the role of the opposition," said Byerly, a mission commander in the Airborne Command and Control Center during Cobra Gold 2000. The squadron's efforts complemented those of Kitty Hawk's Combat Direction Center (CDC), which served as the Hawk's eyes and ears as they worked around the clock to keep the ship up to date on the tactical scene. "Combat Direction Center was responsible for air traffic control for up to nine overland missions a day during Cobra Gold," said Chief Operations Specialist(SW/AW) Patrick Rivers, the CDC leading chief petty officer from Albany, N.Y. "After completing their missions, the planes would turn around and simulate hostile contacts. It was our job to detect, identify and track all of the inbound hostile forces." Tracking simulated attacks and coordinating counter strikes was only part of CDC's mission. Passing on the "big picture" to the fleet made up the rest. "One of the key parts of our job was the battle group communications links," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Michael Hester of Chattanooga, Tenn. "Once we identified the aircraft, we passed the information to the rest of the fleet," said Rivers. "To do that we had to keep in constant communications with the battle group. We kept the entire battle group up-to-date with the exact location of each contact we had." Rear Adm. Timothy J. Keating, Task Force 70's commander embarked aboard Kitty Hawk, said Exercise Cobra Gold 2000 provided an excellent opportunity for America's only permanently forward-deployed battle group to effectively test their mission readiness. "Cobra Gold was great training for everyone all around," said Keating. "We were able to do a lot of training for the Hawk/FIVE team, as well as exercise with the Thai and Singapore navies. It was great for the air wing because of availability of some target facilities that aren't available in Atsugi, and great for the Kitty Hawk's crew because they got to put their battle skills to the test in this important region of the world." Kitty Hawk, operating from Yokosuka, Japan, is on a regularly scheduled two-month deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean. Accompanying Kitty Hawk is the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and the destroyer USS O'Brien (DD 975), operating from Yokosuka, Japan. For more information about the USS Kitty Hawk/CVW-5 team, go to For more information about USS O'Brien, go to -USN-